One of the most prevalent bones of contention a parent can have in conflict with their in-laws is the debate over the proper way to raise the children. "Feed them this!" "Dress them this way!" "Why couldn't he have been a girl?!" But sometimes it goes farther than dueling parental philosophies. Sometimes the in-laws just give off a vibe that is haunting.
Parents of Reddit took a moment to look back on the time their relatives by marriage really crossed the line with their kids. These actions range from inappropriate to downright dangerous. Parents beware.
Content has been edited for clarity.
"My 3-year-old daughter is allergic to strawberries. My mother-in-law and aunt-in-law both know this and have been asked multiple times to not keep them where she can find them.
A few weeks ago, I went to pick her up from their house and I found her sitting at the bar eating strawberries with them. I went freaking ballistic. They said they 'didn't see the harm,' and of course not. They weren't the ones who had to comfort her for the following 24 hours while she was covered from head to toe with hives and having explosive diarrhea.
I no longer allow her to be over there unless my husband or I are there, too, I can't trust them not to do it again. They have a pool too and they refuse to put a pop up fence around it or put childproof locks on the doors to prevent her from falling in."
"The first time my mother-in-law met my son, he was maybe 2 weeks old. She walked in the front door from the airport, sat down, and I let her to hold him. She smiled and then stared straight into his eyes, turned to me, and said, 'He’s so beautiful. I want to see him cry! Will you cry for Grandma?'
We all just stared at her, dumbfounded. Who does that? I can’t even remember how I responded, honestly.
My mother-in-law basically believes babies need to cry to 'exercise their lungs.' She said her daughter sometimes just needed to cry for an HOUR and then she’d sleep 'wonderfully.'"
"As luck would have it, my mother-in-law 'volunteered' to care for my daughter one day a week when I went back to work when she was about 3 months old. She provided exactly one day of such care and couldn't be bothered again. My mother-in-law gave my daughter, who had only ever had my milk, both egg nog and sips from a bottle of red. Three months old.
She eventually puked on my mother-in-law's face, which made me very happy. This was just the tip of the mother-in-law-has-no-boundaries iceberg.
I know it means nothing in the grand scheme of the universe, but taking away the opportunity for me and my husband to decide what would be her first non-milk food was extremely hurtful to me. It was a harbinger of things to come. I'm happy to say 15 years later, kid, husband, and I are happy. I no longer speak to or interact with my husband's family, though he does, and I highly recommend this solution."
"We have very little to do with my in-laws. Because of husband's immediate family, we moved 14 hours away and they don't know our address. There are a few weird moments, but this one stands out at the moment.
My husband's ancient, Mexican grandmother came to visit and was staying with my mother-in-law and father-in-law. My oldest, a boy, is my in-laws' first grandchild and was long overdue in their mind. My husband is the youngest of four, the only one married, and the only one with kids. People were especially inappropriate with us because of this.
While we were visiting, I inevitably had to change son's diaper, so I took him to another room. Ancient grandma followed very slowly because she's nearly blind and has a walker. I was about to put his new diaper on when she gimped over, pinched his member, and PRETENDED TO FREAKING EAT IT. Like a weird 'I got your nose' and ate it.
What the actual heck is this? I couldn't say anything because she can't hear or understand me, so I picked him up and told my husband it was time to leave. His family is horrible."
"Thankfully, my in-laws live a number of hours away, so we only have to see them a few times a year. We went to visit for Easter and my husband thought he would ask if they would watch our daughter in the evening so we could get out for a date night with some friends. All she had to do was put her to bed, which is pretty easy considering she’s almost 6 and goes to bed easily. She had not been feeling well and I had given her some Tylenol earlier in the day. I had the Tylenol in the room my husband and I were staying in right next to the NyQuil (with a dosage cup) I’ve been taking as I’m also sick.
We got home fairly late and there was a note saying she gave our daughter Tylenol around 8:30 pm. I looked at the bottle of Tylenol and it seemed like so much was missing. I turned to my husband and said, 'You don’t think that your mom gave her a dosage based on my cup, do you?' He was adamant that she wouldn’t do that and she wouldn’t just give medicine blindly like that.
I went into my daughter's room and she was hanging off the bed, but sound asleep. I moved her onto the bed and slept with her as I was paranoid. I asked my mother-in-law and she said, 'I used the cup that was with the NyQuil.'
I said that was fine (I wash it out after every use) but asked how she measured it out? She said, 'I poured to the first line and gave it to her.'
Before I could say anything, my husband blew up. He asked her how she could be so oblivious and not read the label to see how much to give her, or call us to ask. She said it was my fault because I left the cup on the NyQuil and how was she to know? She has lost all privileges to watch our daughter alone going forward."
"My husband and I lived down the road from my mother-in-law until our oldest was 5. We moved from California to Texas. My mother-in-law decided that she wasn't needed by her older kids (my husband is the youngest) anymore and moved states to follow us when my youngest was around 18 months.
My mom and mother-in-law shared babysitting duties until last August because we enrolled our youngest in daycare, our middle is in full time kindergarten, and our oldest is in middle school. Part of the reason we did this was because my mother-in-law couldn't follow simple rules. We told her to put sunscreen on our son because summers here are very hot and he loves being outside. She refused and my husband, who teaches and coaches high school football, had to bring our toddler with him to practice on days my mom couldn't watch him. Anyway, our youngest goes Monday through Thursday and my mom and mother-in-law split Fridays. My mother-in-law feels unloved and unwanted so is moving back to her home state in May.
My mother-in-law picked up the youngest from daycare today because he got sick. When I picked him up, he told me that he's sad grandma is leaving. We hadn't even told him yet. He said that he wants her to stay and said, 'She said she is leaving 'cause I don't love her, but I love her.'
I asked him again what grandma said and he repeated that my mother-in-law told him that she was moving because he doesn't love her anymore and he loves his daycare and other grandma more. She said he had to tell me that he wanted to leave daycare to show that he really loves her.
My husband called his mom and she said that she can only say what she feels. He had to hang up the phone and said he did not even want to talk to her about this anymore. I was in agreement, but we need to discuss it with our son because now he thinks it's his fault that grandma is leaving. We told him it isn't, but he said he would stop going to daycare to make grandma stay. I keep reassuring him that he can love daycare and his grandma.
I told him not to worry about what grandma said. I said that she was mad at mommy and daddy for putting him in daycare because she wants to be around him, but he needs to go to daycare just like his siblings need to go to school. I told him sometimes people say mean things when they are sad and reminded him of somethings he has said to his sister or brother. He seemed OK, but still sad."
"We're pretty chill when it comes to friends and family holding our 1-year-old's hand or something similarly innocent. My wife's brother's mother-in-law started out fine by holding our daughter's hand, then proceeded to start kissing it. It was weird, but it got... worse.
She started licking the baby's fingers like some kind of friggin' holistic shaman of sorts. We were both quite shocked and weren't sure how to react since she's technically 'part of the family,' and we're not the confrontational types. We made an excuse to jet on out of there without having to see the goodbye rituals from that her.
Hand wipes for the win."
"I had a decent relationship with with my mother-in-law until I got pregnant. Then, things went downhill.
The first main thing I want to address is that my mother-in-law, who we are low contact with, keeps taking screenshots of photos of my 6-month-old daughter and using them as her profile picture on WhatsApp. She is very open about the fact that she 'steals' every picture I post on social media to send to her friends and family in her home country. She has re-posted a picture of mine (that I posted on my account) on a social media platform as her own, with a caption to suggest that she took the photo.
She then texted me asking if it would be OK if she reposted a photo of my daughter that I took on social media (after the fact). I asked her to please take it down, saying something to the effect of, 'I would prefer it if you didn’t. My profile is private due to the fact that I want to control the audience that is seeing the photos I post. Thanks for understanding!' And then she said, 'Thanks anyway,' and thankfully deleted it.
But this has not stopped her from screenshotting the photos to send to family and use as profile pictures on WhatsApp. It really, really bothers me, and it bothers my significant other too, although his spine is unfortunately quite jellylike at this point in time and he won’t say anything. If I say anything it’s going to cause drama. I don’t know if I’m making a big deal out of nothing. But, my mama bear instinct tells me I should ask her to cut it out. Who knows who she’s sending these photos to?
Also, it is clear that my mother-in-law despises me (and has since I 'dis-included' her from my birth experience). Every single time we’ve seen her since my daughter has been born, she wants to take photos of my daughter and significant other and have photos taken of her, my significant other, and daughter. But, she has always made sure that I don’t make it in any of these photos.
I have stories of interesting and hilarious ways that she has otherwise told me, 'YEAH, NO, I don’t want you in my picture.' She will go out to lunch with us, have photos taken of the three of them, and her Facebook caption will be something like, 'Had fun at lunch with my son and granddaughter,' as if I weren’t there. Not surprising, but sort of hurtful, and very annoying."
"So I used to get along great with my husband's family, but basically had a falling out with his aunt, her grown kid, and his sister because they like to say things (lies) and think that there will be no repercussions. I don't see or speak to them, but my husband takes the little one to big events. It doesn't bother me. I just don't have room in my life for people like that. I digress.
My husband's parents live out of state and came over to see our little one for a couple hours when they were in town. He likes playing a game where he turns on and off the lights and he was trying to get Grandpa to play with him, but he got tired and wanted to sit down. When he tried to get him to play the game with him again, instead of saying 'I don't want to,' Grandpa said, 'No, there are scary monsters in the dark!'
I immediately whipped around and said, 'Why would you said that to a child? Why would you want a child to be afraid of the dark when he isn't?'
Shortly after, I left the room for a couple minutes and I came back to my husband making a joke about something I didn't understand at the time. When they left, he told me when I had left the room, his mother put holy water on our son. My sister-in-law's baby (who I don't have any contact with) got baptized the day before and she got the holy water there. She didn't ask either of us of it was OK to put on our kid, she just did it. I don't have a problem with religion. I just wanted my kid to decide what he wants to do when he gets older. I felt like she did it on purpose when I left the room so I couldn't say anything."
"My father-in-law is one heck of a negligent babysitter, with all kinds of crazy behaviors.
He bought and gave my 1-year-old a handful of hard candy 'because he asked for it.' He used his pill case as a rattle. He plays ball with both my sons at his garden near his unfenced pool. None of them can swim. He lets them play with a watering hose and soak themselves in winter. He takes them to the park and climbs trees while they watch. They're 3 and 1. He's 75.
Don't get me started on his games with matches and nails."
"My mother-in-law told me she was planning for my 11-year-old son to be her ring bearer, my 9-year-old daughter a candle bearer, 4-year-old daughter a flower girl, 14-year-old son an usher, and my 16-year-old daughter a bridesmaid. She told me this two days before her wedding without asking me, my husband, or my children. She just expected them all the comply with whatever whim she fancied for her wedding with no notice, or permission.
Three of my kids did not feel comfortable walking down an aisle in front of a few hundred strangers. We did not force them to participate in the wedding. My mother-in-law chewed my husband out for not disregarding their choices, she even said, 'Why did you even ask them? Why didn't you just tell them what they're doing?!'
How about because we do not want to teach our children to blindly obey any and all adults/bullies? That's how you train people to be victims.
She even went so far as to call out my 9-year-old daughter in front of the entire wedding party from across the room by shouting at rehearsal, 'Are you sure you don't want to help Grammy out by just holding a battery powered candle? It's easy!'
God bless my child. She stood her ground and said no. I was livid."
"Both of my children have a medical condition, diagnosed by their doctor and confirmed by a specialist, which prevents them from being vaccinated. We found this out after rushing to the hospital after vaccinating my first born at his one month appointment, and he stopped breathing and seized. He almost died, but luckily we were just down the road from the ER. They figured out why. When we had our second child, they tested her as well. She has the same thing. So, no vaccines for them. The measles may suck, but being dead sucks worse.
My mother-in-law is a nurse of 20 years and is convinced she knows everything about everything. Spoiler: she doesn't. She tells everyone I'm a hippy anti-vaxxer and going to end up killing my kids because I won't vaccinate them. I offered her proof from doctors, but she said she doesn't want it.
Well then, SHUT UP LADY. You think I WANT my child to be at risk for measles and chicken pox? That I just LOOOOOOVE the risk of my kids getting sick? NO. But unfortunately, they can't get the shot without risking death, so I make it work by just teaching them hygiene, giving them vitamins, and trying to keep them as healthy as possible.
When my first child got a rug burn, she was convinced it was some rash and that it was my fault for not vaccinating them. Rug burn. From falling. Ugh. This woman ticks me off."
"My mother-in-law is 'Lady I/Me/My' because everything is 'I want/think this because this is what MY friends told ME!' She did not care for me and was positive I was mistreating my husband. She has dementia now and I am trying to work through my feelings because I need to support my husband. This would have been around the time of the call from the dead.
My husband had an older sister whom he adored. Tragically, she was killed in an accident in her twenties and I never had the pleasure of meeting her. When we finally got around to getting married and having kids, I knew I wanted to honor her memory. I came up with a version of her name that was unique - or so I thought. This was before everyone Googled everything. Heck, this was before Google.
So, my husband passed the name by his parents and told them why. They seemed to accept it, 'seemed' being the operative word. Unbeknownst to us, my in-laws decided to call our daughter by a variation of her middle name. One we disliked. Think 'Peggy Sue' for 'Margaret.'
It started when she was one. We lived far away the first year, then we moved close to my husband's grandmother for a good job. BIG MISTAKE. My mother-in-law would call our daughter by the variation of her middle name. Our daughter would ignore her. 'Lady I/Me/My' would then turn her anger on me because her granddaughter was not responding. I finally called my daughter by her full name which got her attention. I sweetly pointed out that she responds when you call her by the right name.
'Lady I/Me/My' wanted to know why I would not call her by her middle name. I said it was because I did not care for it (I was so mad and hormonal that I said something stupid. I love her middle name). She asked why I gave her that middle name then. My response came out in a shout, 'Because it sounded good with her first name!!!'
Cue the chronic hate face.
That, instead of ending it, became the first salvo in a war that lasted until my daughter was in Kindergarten. I blame the terrorists.
Remember how we chose the name before Google? Well, shortly after I thought I had shut down 'Lady I/Me/My's' name shenanigans, some terrorists decided to use some explosives and other devices in a part of the world. There was retaliation. I still do not know how, but 'Lady I/Me/My' discovered that in a country adjacent to where some of the retaliation was happening, there was a city with the same exact name as our daughter.
VOILA!!! My mother-in-law now had a nuclear bomb to use in the war: we needed to change my daughter's name or else people would think we supported the terrorists!
We Googled it and yep, the info was correct. However, HOW many people know that exact fact? Not many, as no one else told us anything, besides her and my brother-in-law (her favorite). The nuclear bomb's fuse was a dud. My daughter kept her name and my mother-in-law learned to just fume."
"My kids spent the night at my mother and father-in-law's house on Friday night. It was the first time they’ve ever done it when I wasn’t in the hospital after delivering one of their siblings. It’s not a common occurrence, in other words, mostly because my mother-in-law has been super irritating for me since we’ve had kids.
My kids are 7, 6, nearly 5, just turned 3, and 1. My 1-year-old stayed with us though as she would not have enjoyed a sleepover. While they were there, my mother-in-law mentioned to my oldest daughter that she was 'the Easter Bunny for their house.' I know many families don’t do the Easter Bunny thing or Santa thing, but we are boring average people and we do, mostly because I like to do it and always put in major effort to make sure it happens.
So, then, my 7-year-old, and likely the older three who were likely on the verge of not believing anyway, have come to understand that the Easter Bunny isn’t real because the real bunny doesn’t go to grandma and grandpa's house, so why would he come to our house? I knew we were coming to that point anyway, but I can’t help but feel infuriated by yet another situation that belongs squarely in the parenting role being taken from me. My husband is, as usual, no help at all and just wants me to 'talk to her because I’m sure she didn’t mean it that way.'
I see everything through the lens of my mother-in-law's insatiable baby rabid behavior and while this particular event doesn’t seem horrible, it’s really just the tip of the iceberg with this woman and I can’t trust my husband to help me figure out how big a problem this is because 'she doesn’t mean it that way.'
I also found out that my mother-in-law not only said this to them, but also had them sort and stuff all of the eggs for the hunt at her house today. So, not only did she ruin he surprise but she also made them do the work for it too."
"For the past week or so, my 5-year-old son has had some pretty intense tantrums. He becomes quite aggressive and there’s nothing I can do to get him to hear me when this is happening. The last tantrum went on for an hour and it was awful. This behavior is very uncharacteristic of him. I thought we were out of the tantrum phase and even in the throes of being a 3-year-old. His tantrums were never this intense. He’s also never been aggressive. So, needless to say, these episodes have been difficult for all of us.
So, my husband called his mom to vent and it so happens that her now 6-year-old niece had tantrums like this last year. She’s always comparing her niece and my son. So, she thought it was a good idea to call me at work to talk to me about it. Mind you, I was crazy emotional because the last intense tantrum had just happened the night before. I mentioned that I was worried and going to call his doctor, and she assured me that what was happening was totally normal. I tend to worry too much, but she lives in another state and would not know if something is abnormal when it comes to my child.
She said that he’s just trying to show that he’s in control and I have to refocus him. So when her niece did this, she grabbed her and put her in the shower fully clothed. She said it was not a cold shower, but it wasn’t a normal shower. It was definitely a cold shower because my husband mentioned cold water. And she said the tantrums only happened twice with her niece and never happened again, so she insisted that it works. I’m pretty sure she probably has threatened her with a cold shower and that squashed it.
I was honest and said I didn’t know what to do but I wasn’t going to do that. I don’t think it’s OK, nor do I think it would be effective. She does not understand that nothing will get his attention and I really doubt that cold water will fix the problem. As much as it sucks, he needs to learn how to feel his feelings and me putting him in a shower isn’t going to help that. Fortunately, I was able to get an appointment with his pediatrician so hopefully I’ll be able to figure out what works. Her idea just sounds mean."